7 features of Canadian higher education

7 features of Canadian higher education

You should know this if you are going to study in Canada.

Canadian education is valued all over the world, and also gives you extra points when you apply for immigration and a Post-Graduation Work Permit. At the beginning of 2020, there were more than 500,000 international students in Canada. Canada has the third-highest number of international students in the world.

If you’re going to study in Canada, you should be prepared for a completely different educational system. Read this article to find out how Canadian higher education differs from education in other countries.

Study permit

The first is a study permit. If you are coming to Canada to study at a college or university for more than six months, you need a study permit. To apply online or at your country's visa center, you'll need a passport, a photograph, and a letter of admission to the institution. That is, you enroll first and only then get a visa.

In addition, you need to show that you have enough money to live in Canada. Bank statements, student loan documents, letters from sponsors, and so on. You will need $10,000 CAD for one year of living in Canada. Plus, extra money if your family goes with you. And that's not counting the tuition fee, which you will learn about later.


There are usually no entrance exams in Canadian universities. But you will have to take an English language test, namely the IELTS Academic. Do not confuse it with the IELTS General, which you need to take to immigrate. How many points you need to score depends on the institution in which you plan to apply, usually it is 6 points. In each country, there are English courses that specifically prepare you to take IELTS. Also, some colleges in Canada offer language programs that allow you to enter a Canadian university or college without taking a language exam. There are also independent language schools.

For example, we are agents for ILAC, the largest language school in Canada, which last year was voted the best in Toronto. You can learn English there both in class, in Toronto and Vancouver, and online. Our project team also studied there, so we can recommend it with a clear conscience. ILAC allows you to enter many institutions in Canada without taking a language test.

Our website has much material about studying at ILAC, as well as at their partner Georgian college.

Graduation documents

The next difference in Canadian education is graduation credentials. In Canada, you can get a certificate, diploma, or degree. We start with high school, in which you study for 12 years. After that, there are three more levels of higher education.

Undergraduate education lasts from one to four years. After one year, graduates receive a certificate, after two or three years — usually a diploma, and after three to four years — a bachelor's degree. The next step is graduate education, which is a master's degree. To get it, you need to study for another one to three years at university. And finally, the postgraduate education is a doctor's degree, which is obtained after the master's degree.

That means you can study even a one-year program, and you will receive the Canadian certificate of education, which is recognized all over the world.

Canadian colleges tend to be career-oriented. Certificate programs are usually geared toward specific occupations, while diploma programs prepare students for careers in a specific field or group of occupations. Universities offer academic and vocational programs.

Which program to choose depends on the occupation. Somewhere you have to have a master's degree, and somewhere it is enough to study for one year in college. It is the same, by the way, with immigration. Some programs require a master's degree, while others require completion of a one-year program. And somewhere even a high school education is enough.

Selecting subjects

Let's move on to the next distinction. Surely, when you were studying in your home country, you wondered why you had so many extra subjects. For example, you are a programmer, but for some reason, you have to attend philosophy lectures once a week. In Canada, there is no such thing, because students choose what to study. There are compulsory subjects, and there are many elective subjects.

Academic credits

The next and probably most difficult thing to understand is the system of academic credits. Roughly speaking, this is how many hours you spent studying. As you study, the credits accumulate. In full-time education, a standard semester consists of 15 academic credits, and that's counting all the courses. If a student attends a course for three hours per week during a term, they usually receive six credits for that course. And in order to get a certificate, diploma, or degree at the end of the training, you need to accumulate a certain number of these credits during the period of study:

  • 30 credits for a certificate or diploma;
  • 90 to 120 credits for a bachelor's degree;
  • 45 for a master's degree;
  • 90 is for a doctor's degree.

Tuition fees

Let's move on. Now comes the sad part. Studying in Canada is expensive. It was said earlier that you need to show $10,000 CAD in an account, but you will need more to live on: $15,000 to 20,000 CAD. Add to this the tuition fee. It depends on the institution and province, but the average is $15,000 to 20,000 CAD. The most expensive are the MBA programs. This translates to a Master of Business Administration. Graduates of these programs may hold mid— to upper-level management positions. Prices for such training may range from $25,000, $40,000, and even $60,000 CAD per year.

The good news is that you can work up to 20 hours a week during the study year and up to 40 hours a week during holidays. The minimum hourly wage in Canada ranges from about $12 to $16 CAD, depending on the province, so at least part of your education is sure to pay for itself. For example, even if you work 20 hours a week for $12 an hour you will get more than $8,500 CAD in 9 months. And if you work full-time in summer, then a year will come out to about $14 500 CAD. At the very least, you will earn money for living expenses. If you study in Ontario, you will earn more — from $15 per hour.

The second good news — you can first study in Canada on a one-year program, then get a permanent residency through one of the streams for graduates, and then continue training. You will already be a permanent resident, so the tuition fee will be two or three times lower.

If you want to save even more money, contact our company to select a university or college and program of study. Through our partners, you can get 12 free weeks of English and no IELTS on admission, and colleges often offer discounts and scholarships.

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